The Venice competition line-up spans the globe, and showcases renowned talents alongside exciting new names. Screen gets the inside track on the films creating the biggest buzz.
For full Venice line-up please click HERE.
36 Vues Du Pic Saint Loup (Fr)
Dir Jacques Rivette
The story A comedy drama set in a circus. When the owner dies, the troupe has to call on a retired star to keep the show on track.
The cast French icon Jane Birkin stars in her fourth film with Rivette. Also on board is Sergio Castellitto, an Italian actor with more than 25 years of film and television credits in France, Italy and the US, including Paris, Je
T’Aime, Arthur And The Invisibles and The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
The buzz The 81-year old Rivette is a tireless film-maker who last directed The Duchess Of Langeais in 2007. His most recent hit was 2001’s Va Savoir, which competed in Cannes that year. This is his first trip to Venice in
Int’l sales Les Films du Losange, (33) 1 44 43 87 10
A Single Man (US)
Dir Tom Ford
The story Fashion designer Tom Ford’s directorial debut stars Colin Firth as a British professor in Los Angeles who loses his partner of 16 years.
The cast Firth, Matthew Goode, and Julianne Moore.
The buzz Word is strong on A Single Man, which Ford wrote with David Scearce. It was produced by the director’s own company, Fade To Black, with the Weitz brothers’ Depth Of Field and Artina Films.
Int’l sales IM Global, email@example.com
Dir Cheang Pou-soi
The story A professional hitman who specialises in making assassinations look like accidents is convinced that someone is plotting to kill him.
The cast One of Hong Kong’s top leading men, Louis Koo, stars with Taiwanese heart-throb Richie Jen and Hong Kong actress Michelle Ye.
The buzz After directing a string of Hong Kong horrors, Cheang appeared on the international radar with violent dramas Dog Bite Dog (2006) and Shamo (2007). His latest effort, produced by Johnnie To for Media Asia, combines his brutal vision with a bigger budget and star cast.
Int’l sales Media Asia Distribution, (852) 2314 4288
Dir Giuseppe Tornatore
The story Set in the director’s hometown of Bagheria, Sicily, Baaria is an epic comedy spanning a century in the life of a Sicilian family.
The cast Sicilian actress Margareth Madé makes her debut in the lead role alongside rising Italian star Francesco Scianna. The 200- strong cast also includes Monica Bellucci, Raoul Bova and Luigi Lo Cascio.
The buzz A labour of love for the Oscar-winning director, carefully cultivated by Medusa Film and held tightly under wraps, the $28m Baaria is the biggest-budget Italian film of recent times. Medusa has pre-sold it to more than 20 territories and expects to kick off the next round of deals in Venice and Toronto. Tornatore was last in Venice in 1995 with The Star Maker, which took the Special Jury Prize ex aequo and went on to receive a foreign-language Oscar nomination.
Int’l sales Summit Entertainment, (44) 20 7494 1724
Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans (US)
Dir Werner Herzog
The story Abel Ferrara’s 1992 low-budget film about a depraved cop is transposed from New York to New Orleans and remade on a considerably bigger budget.
The cast Nicolas Cage takes the lead with a stellar supporting cast including Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer, Fairuza Balk, Jennifer Coolidge and Xzibit.
The buzz Herzog’s first fictional feature since Rescue Dawn (although he already has another -My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done? -set to screen in Toronto) might raise eyebrows for remaking a recent cult film but it is one
of the sexier US titles at Venice. Produced by the original’s producer Edward R Pressman, the remake is financed by Nu Image/Millennium Films.
Int’l sales Nu Image/Millennium, (1) 310 388 6900
Between Two Worlds (Sri Lanka)
Dir Vimukthi Jayasundara
The story A young man flees a city in rebellion and arrives in a village where the inhabitants’ lives are influenced by an old legend.
The cast Sri Lankan actor Thusitha Laknath and actress Kaushalya Fernando, along with Chinese actress Huang Lu.
The buzz Reunites Jayasundara with producers Philippe Avril and Michael Klein, the team behind The Forsaken Land which won the Camera d’Or at Cannes in 2005. Jayasundara, who splits his time between Paris and Colombo, made his feature debut with Forsaken Land, while Avril has credits including Teza which won the special jury prize at Venice last year. At time of press, Avril was in talks with sales agents for Between Two Worlds.
Int’l sales Philippe Avril, firstname.lastname@example.org
Capitalism: A Love Story (US)
Dir Michael Moore
The story Michael Moore’s latest first-person documentary explores the global economic meltdown and the events that led up to what Moore calls “the biggest robbery in the history of this country”-the transfer of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money into private financial institutions.
The cast Moore and a cast of thousands.
The buzz Set for US release through Overture Films on October 2 and sold internationally by Paramount Vantage, Moore’s newest comic polemic might not have the same box-office potential as Fahrenheit 9/11 now the Bush regime has left the White House. But, as Sicko proved, his voice still has pulling power.
Int’l sales Paramount Vantage International, (1) 323 956 8692
Chengdu, I Love You (Chi)
CLOSING FILM (Out of competition)
Dirs Fruit Chan, Cui Jian
The story Two-parter set in the Chinese city of Chengdu. Chan’s segment is a comedy set during the 1976 earthquake of Tanghsan, while Cui zips forward to 2029 with a Matrix-like sci-fi story.
The cast Guo Tao (Crazy Stone), Anya, Tan Weiei and Huang Xuan.
The buzz Produced by China’s Zonbo Media, this started as an homage to Chengdu, but the combination of indie film-maker Fruit Chan and rock star Cui Jian promises stories that are eccentric rather than sentimental.
Int’l sales Zonbo Media, (86) 10 6843 5703
La Doppia Ora (It)
Dir Giuseppe Capotondi
The story A thriller about a young Slovenian woman who makes her living as a chambermaid in Italy and meets an ex-police officer through speed dating. They fall in love but when he dies suddenly, her world is thrown into disarray -especially when she thinks she sees him alive.
The cast Ksenia Rappoport, who made her Italian debut in Giuseppe Tornatore’s The Unknown (2006) stars with Filippo Timi, whose credits include As God Commands.
The buzz Capotondi will be in the spotlight at Venice for bringing a thriller -an underused genre in Italy -and for his debut film-maker status. La Doppia Ora is produced by Francesca Cima and Nicola Giuliano of Indigo Film, the team behind Paolo Sorrentino’s films.
Int’l sales c/o Medusa Film, (39) 0666 3901
Il Grande Sogno (It)
Dir Michele Placido
The story Literally, ‘The Big Dream’, this film was inspired by the director’s own life. A young southern Italian policeman makes his way to Rome to pursue dreams of acting, and becomes enraptured by the free love
atmosphere of 1968.
The cast Riccardo Scamarcio and Jasmine Trinca, two of Italy’s best- known young talents, star with Luca Argentero, a local heart-throb discovered on a reality TV show. This is his first auteur-driven role.
The buzz Marco Mueller’s selection committee called the film a career best for director Placido.
Int’l sales Films Distribution, (33) 1 53 10 33 99
Dir Samuel Maoz
The story Life inside an Israeli tank with four soldiers, on the first day of the 1982 Lebanon war.
The cast At least four of the actors have appeared in Israeli films presented at leading international festivals: Itay Tiran, who starred in Beaufort, is widely considered the best young Israeli actor of his generation; Oshri Cohen, a popular film and television actor, also appeared in Beaufort; Michael Moshonov, the co-star of 2007’s Tehilim, is the son of stage and film actor Moni Moshonov; and Zohar Strauss was one of the two leads in this year’s Un Certain Regard title Eyes Wide Open. Like most Israeli actors, they juggle film work with frequent television and stage roles.
The buzz This is the first film from writer-director Samuel Maoz, who has previously worked as an art director as well as producing commercials and a TV movie. With haunting echoes of Ari Folman’s Waltz With Bashir, Lebanon is based on Maoz’s personal experience. He served in a tank during the war and went through some of the nightmarish events he describes in the film, suffering a trauma he claims he could not shake off until the day he started shooting Lebanon. By all accounts it was an extremely difficult production, since most of the action takes place inside a tank. Production partners boarded the project and then left, and the work was spread over a number of years. The finished film is a co- production between Israel’s Metro Communications and Paralite Productions, with France’s Arsam International and Germany’s Ariel Films. Funding came from the Israeli Film Fund, Arte France and NRW among others.
Int’l sales Celluloid Dreams, (33) 1 49 70 03 70
Life During Wartime (US)
Dir Todd Solondz
The story A companion piece of sorts to Happiness (1998), Life During Wartime sees Solondz return with his first film since Palindromes played Venice in 2004. Occasionally titled Forgiveness, it is set, as the title
suggests, in a world torn apart by war.
The cast A large ensemble includes Charlotte Rampling, Paul Reubens, Ciaran Hinds, Shirley Henderson, Ally Sheedy, Michael Lerner and Gaby Hoffman. Paris Hilton was at one time attached but her involvement fell through.
The buzz The debut film from producer/financier Werc Werk Works was, like another Venice premiere The Men Who Stare At Goats, shot in Puerto Rico but that should not affect Solondz’s distinctly American satire.
Int’l sales Fortissimo Films, (31) 20 627 3215
Dir Jessica Hausner
The story A woman confined to a wheelchair for most of her life experiences an apparent miracle cure after she makes a journey to the pilgrimage site of Lourdes.
The cast César-winner Sylvie Testud leads a cast that includes Swiss-born film and stage actor Bruno Todeschini, and Léa Seydoux, now shooting Robin Hood with Ridley Scott after having appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.
The buzz This is Hausner’s first time in Venice after being a regular visitor to Cannes over the past 10 years: her graduation film, Interview, was shown there in 1999 as part of Cinefondation and was followed by her debut feature Lovely Rita in Competition in 2001 and Hotel in Un Certain Regard in 2004. As with Hausner’s previous films, Lourdes is produced by Coop 99, the company she founded with fellow Vienna Film Academy students Barbara Albert, Martin Gschlacht and Antonin Svoboda.
Int’l sales The Coproduction Office, (33) 1 56 02 60 00
Mr Nobody (Fr)
Dir Jaco van Dormael
The story The main theme of this sci-fi picture is the consequence of
decisions. Mr Nobody is a young man -or maybe he is an old man -looking
back at the various lives he believes he has lived after having to choose
whether to stay with his mother or his father as a boy.
The cast The cast features Jared Leto (best known for Darren Aronofsky’s
Requiem For A Dream), indie-darling Sarah Polley (recently of HBO’s John
Adams and soon to be seen in Vincenzo Natali’s Splice), Inglourious Basterds
star Diane Kruger and the UK’s Rhys Ifans.
The buzz Good word-of-mouth on this English-language film has grown since it
was first announced, despite its surprise no-show at Cannes. Van Dormael has
a strong following since his 1991 feature debut Toto The Hero for which he
won the Camera d’Or in Cannes. This is his first time in competition at
Int’l sales Wild Bunch, (33) 1 53 01 50 20
Dir Patrice Chéreau
The story A drama about a loner and his relationship with a woman who both inspires and disgusts him. The man finds himself faced with questions when a stranger enters their lives.
The cast A trio of French stars -Romain Duris, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Jean-Hughes Anglade -play Persécution’s principal characters.
The buzz This is director Chereau’s first film since 2005’s Gabrielle - which was his first appearance in the Venice festival -so hopes are high for Persécution. The pedigree cast will also be a strong draw for audiences.
Mars Distribution is releasing the film in France in December.
Int’l sales MK2, (33) 1 44 67 30 00
Prince Of Tears (Chi-Tai-HK)
The story Set in 1950s Taiwan, Prince Of Tears revolves around a family torn apart when the parents are arrested as Communist spies.
The cast Taiwanese actors Fan Chih-wei, who starred in Chang Tso-chi’s The Best Of Times, Terri Kwan (Turn Left, Turn Right) and Joe Chang (Eternal Summer).
The buzz Hong Kong-based film-maker Yonfan started out as a fashion photographer and is renowned for beautifully shot dramas such as Bishonen (1998), Peony Pavilion (2001) and Colour Blossoms (2004), which often deal with characters on the margins of society. His latest effort Prince Of Tears, produced by Fruit Chan, probes a period in Taiwan’s history seldom explored on film.
Int’l sales Fortissimo Films, (31) 20 627 3215
The Road (US)
Dir John Hillcoat
The story Cormac McCarthy’s award-winning book is brought to the screen by director John Hillcoat (The Proposition). The story tells of a father and son’s struggle to survive on the road in the aftermath of an environmental apocalypse.
The cast Hillcoat assembled a stellar cast led by Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as the man and his son respectively, with Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce.
The buzz Amid rumours and reports of clashes between Hillcoat and The Weinstein Company, whose Dimension Films is handling the US release, The Road finally sees the light of day after many delays. US release is set for October 16.
Int’l sales Magnolia Pictures, (1) 212 924 6701
Soul Kitchen (Ger)
Dir Fatih Akin
The story A young Hamburg restauranteur follows his girlfriend to China, leaving his restaurant in the perhaps not-so-capable hands of his brother.
The cast Producer Klaus Maeck describes the cast as “a bit like a ‘Best Of’ album”, with Adam Bousdoukos, who appeared in Akin’s first film Short, Sharp Shock, playing the lead character. Moritz Bleibtreu, who starred in Akin’s In July and Solino, co-stars.
The buzz Akin completes his hat-trick of competition appearances at the world’s top three international film festivals: Head-On in Berlin in 2004 (where he won the Golden Bear) and The Edge Of Heaven in Cannes in 2007, and now for the first time at Venice. Soul Kitchen will have its North American premiere in Toronto and will open the Filmfest Hamburg on September 24.
Int’l sales The Match Factory, (49) 221 539 70 90
Survival Of The Dead (US)
Dir George A Romero
The story Picking up from where Romero’s 2007 Diary Of The Dead left off, a group of survivors holed up in a mansion flee to the only place that appears to offer hope: a mysterious chain of islands called No Man’s Land.
Once ashore the seemingly tropical paradise, they discover the island is home to a civilisation of the dead locked in battle with an underground tribe of living survivors.
The cast Kathleen Munroe, Devon Bostick, Kenneth Welsh, Athena Karkanis, Julian Richings.
The buzz Shooting in the same first-person style as Diary Of The Dead, Romero sticks to his independent roots yet broadens the canvas in what promises to be a bloody slice of mayhem from the genre master, with his trademark social commentary thrown in for good measure.
Int’l sales Voltage Pictures, (1) 323 464 8351; WME Global, (1) 310 859 4000; Cinetic (1) 212 204 7979
Tetsuo The Bullet Man (Jap)
Dir Shinya Tsukamoto
The story A US businessman in Tokyo mutates into metal and takes revenge on
the man who killed his young son.
The cast Newcomer Eric Bossick won the lead role after an open casting call
on the internet.
The buzz This is Tsukamoto’s English-language reboot of the cyberpunk
classic that made him famous 20 years ago, and advance clips shown at July’s
Comic-Con played to a packed audience. Tsukamoto is well-known on the Lido
as a jury member (1997) and a prize winner (2002’s A Snake Of June).
Int’l sales: Coproduction Office, (33) 1 56 02 60 00
The Traveller (Egy)
Dir Ahmed Maher
The story The film follows a man over three different periods in his life: in Suez in 1948, Alexandria in 1973 and Cairo in 2001.
The cast Legendary Egyptian actor Omar Sharif heads a cast which also includes Khaled El-Nabawy, Cyrine Abdel Nour and Amr Waked. Sharif narrates and plays the older version of the character.
The buzz The debut feature of young Egyptian director Maher is touted as one of the most expensive Egyptian movies ever made. It was produced by Egypt’s Ministry of Culture. The presence of Sharif is likely to pique the curiosity of buyers.
Int’l sales Adriana Chiesa Enterprises, (39) 06 80 86 052
White Material (Fr)
Dir Claire Denis
The story A Frenchwoman in Africa refuses to abandon her crops when the country is torn by rebellion. Fearful for his ex-wife and their son, the woman’s ex-husband will stop at nothing to save them, along with his new
wife and child.
The cast Isabelle Huppert, Christophe Lambert and Nicolas Duvauchelle star. Huppert, who was the Cannes jury president this year, last worked with Denis on 1991’s Contre L’Oubli. Lambert, best known outside France for Highlander, is a staple of the French entertainment business, while the not-yet-30 Duvauchelle has seen his star
rise steadily over the past decade in such films as Eager Bodies. He has previously worked with Denis on Beau Travail and Trouble Every Day.
The buzz White Material is one of two films that Denis will release this year along with 35 Shots Of Rum, which she took time off to direct during White Material, and premiered in Venice last year. This well-respected director has a flair for the gruesome.
Int’l sales Wild Bunch, (33) 1 53 01 50 20
The White Space (It)
Dir Francesca Comencini
The story A southern Italian woman waits as her newborn child on life support in an incubator for three months. Consumed by solitude, she must find the internal strength to bring her child into the world.
The cast Margherita Buy, one of Italy’s most popular actresses, stars.
The buzz Based on the novel of the same name by Valeria Parrella, the film is constructed around the principal character of Maria, played by Buy in what is anticipated to be her most demanding role to date.
Int’l sales Fandango Portobello Sales, (44) 20 7605 1391
Women Without Men (Ger-Fr)
Dir Shirin Neshat
The story Four women find independence and solace in a metaphorical orchard. The film set against the tumultuous backdrop of the CIA/MI6-backed Iranian coup d’état in summer 1953 when prime minister Mohammed Mosaddeq was deposed and the Shah returned from exile.
The cast Two of the four women -Paris-based actress Shabnam Tolouei and Iranian artist Arita Shahrzad -have previously appeared in short films made by Neshat. German-Iranian Pegah Ferydoni won national TV awards in Germany for her performance in the popular series Turkish For Beginners and can now be seen in Su Turhan’s debut Ayla. Hungarian actress Orsi Toth has regularly worked with Kornel Mundruczo, including on the award-winning Delta.
The buzz Based on Shahrnush Parsipur’s bestselling novel, which was banned in Iran after its publication in 1989, Women Without Men is Shirin Neshat’s feature debut and will travel to Toronto after Venice. The co-production between Coop 99, Essential Filmproduktion and Parisienne de Production will be distributed in Italy by BIM Distribuzione.
Int’l sales The Coproduction Office, (33) 1 5602 6000
The Hole (US)
Dir Joe Dante
The story Two brothers and their neighbour discover a mysterious hole in the basement of their new house that forces them to confront their deepest fears.
The cast Although the film is hardly cast-dependent, it does feature fast-rising Haley Bennett (Marley & Me, The Haunting Of Molly Hartley) and Chris Massoglia (soon to be seen in Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistantfrom Paul Weitz and Universal). Teri Polo also stars.
The buzz Dante has a track record of highly entertaining films -Gremlins, Innerspace, Small Soldiers -so his latest family psychological thriller is keenly anticipated. The fact it was shot in 3D marks it out as one of the few independent 3D pictures on the market.
Int’l sales Bold Films International, (1) 323 769 8900
The Informant! (US)
Dir Steven Soderbergh
The story The true story of Mark Whitacre, a high-level employee at agricultural processor Archer Daniels Midland who turned FBI informant to uncover a price-fixing scam. Based on the book by Kurt Eichenwald.
The cast Matt Damon, making his fourth film with Soderbergh, is joined by a solid cast of character actors including Clancy Brown and Melanie Lynskey.
The buzz Judging by the trailer and the exclamation mark in the title, Soderbergh has played this story for laughs and Matt Damon looks like he is having a ball in the title role. Opening in the US shortly after its Venice world premiere (opening day is September 18), the film may be too light for awards play.
Worldwide distribution: Warner Bros/WBPI
The Men Who Stare At Goats (US-UK)
Dir Grant Heslov
The story A film of the book by British journalist Jon Ronson about the US
army’s paranormal unit, the First Earth Battalion. Peter Straughan wrote the
screenplay, while George Clooney’s business and creative partner Grant
Heslov makes his directorial debut.
The cast George Clooney plays a psychic US solider, Ewan McGregor the
journalist on his trail and Jeff Bridges the founder of the army unit. Kevin
Spacey also stars.
The buzz Shot in Puerto Rico and produced by Clooney and Heslov’s Smokehouse
and BBC Films with financing from Winchester Capital, The Men Who Stare At
Goats could be one of the most commercially viable independents at Venice,
especially since domestic distributor Overture Films has set a wide release
date of November 6.
Int’l sales Mandate Pictures, (1) 310 255 3700
[Rec] 2 (Sp)
Dir Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza
The story Picks up where [Rec] left off, with a TV camera crew quarantined
inside a Madrid apartment block as everyone around them dies mysteriously
only to return as zombies.
The cast Lead actress Manuela Velasco returns, as do Javier Botet and Ferran
The buzz Filmax is confident its film can match or better the success of the
original, which took $12m in Spain alone following its out-of-competition
premiere at Venice in 2007, and spawned the US remake Quarantine.
Int’l sales Filmax, (34) 93 263 2222
Scheherazade Tell Me A Story (Egy)
Dir Yousry Nasrallah
The story A female talk show host in Cairo provokes controversy by dealing with women’s issues on her programme. Her husband is a senior editor at a government-owned newspaper. As the tensions mount, her marriage comes under strain.
The cast Popular Egyptian actress Mona Zaki leads a cast that includes Mahmoud Hemida, the star of some of Youssef Chahine’s final works.
The buzz Former film critic Nasrallah is a protégé of the late Youssef Chahine, the most feted Egyptian filmmaker on the international festival circuit. His work, noted for its sharp analysis of hot-button social and political issues, has screened in Locarno and Cannes.
Contact: Pyramide International, (33) 1 4296 0220
Yona Yona Penguin (Jap-Fr-Thai)
The story Animation about a little girl named Coco who dresses in a penguin suit every night and is whisked away to a subterranean world where she is mistaken for a mythical saviour.
Thebuzz The first Japan-France 3D CG animated feature, co-produced by Japan’s Madhouse and France’s Denis Friedman Productions. Veteran director Rintaro brings a classic 2D sensibility to the intensive 3D CG film,
produced by Dynamo Pictures, France’s Def2shoot and Thailand’s Imagimax.
Int‘l sales: Wild Bunch, (33) 1 53015021
Profiles by Martin Blaney, Chris Evans, Edna Fainaru, Mike Goodridge, Jason
Gray, Sheri Jennings, Jeremy Kay, Geoffrey Macnab, Liz Shackleton and Nancy